Tag Archives: family

Alternative Ways To Celebrate The Holidays

Filed under: Fun Ideas, Seasonal Celebrations, Social Life/Relationships, Volunteering and Giving Back - Angelina
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BookRenter Blogger Biography Cameron Tranchemontagne

The holidays in the fall and winter are my favorite holidays. As I thought about why that is, I realized that gift-giving is low on the list of things I love about the holidays. I think the number one thing that makes Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanzaa so special is the emotion. Maybe it’s the years of Christmas advertisements burned into my mind, but there’s something in the air that just seems to make everything more joyful.

My family celebrates Christmas. We get our Christmas tree a day or two after Thanksgiving, decorate it together as a family, buy gifts for each other, go to my Aunt’s annual Christmas Eve party, and then open presents Christmas morning and eat a hearty breakfast of bacon, sausage, eggs, hash-browns, and toast. This year we decided a change was needed. Instead of our traditional Christmas activities, we decided to scrap the gift-giving, forgo the Christmas tree, and forget the feasts.

These are some unconventional ideas for alternative ways to celebrate the holidays:

1. Family Outing

My family and I went on a vacation. Going on a trip with loved ones is a great way to get closer as you share new and exciting experiences together and create memories to last for years to come. I know I cannot wait to be lounging on the beach in the Virgin Islands with my family, soaking up the sun and fishing by day and having dinner by night.

Family on vacation at the beach

Photo © Birds Paradise Travel

2. More Than A Gift

My friend’s family has a pretty interesting tradition as well. They also celebrate Christmas, so they buy a tree, invite lots of people over for a pot-luck dinner, and they give each other gifts. However, these gifts are deeply personal and often take more effort than just going to a store and buying something. Some gift examples include a photo album consisting of pictures of the giver and receiver over the years, or a song written and recorded by the giver, or a playlist of songs that the giver knows the receiver loves. All these gifts are different but have one thing in common: they transcend consumerism and touch people on a deeper level.

Looking At Photo Album Christmas Gift

Photo © She Knows

3. Pay It Forward

Another idea for an alternative holiday is to “pay it forward” by giving the gift of a charitable donation in the name of the person you would normally just go buy the newest gadget for. Think of the good you’ll be doing if, instead of buying your 70 year old grandmother a smartphone that she will never completely understand, donate the money to Alzheimer’s research. Instead of buying dad a new tie, you could buy a months’ worth of dinner for a family less fortunate. If you are having difficulty coming up with a charity, the local food pantries always need help this time of year. I’m sure they would be more than happy to have volunteers.

Pay It Forward Holiday Donation Giving Back

Photo © Marion Online

Whatever holiday you celebrate, remember the true meaning is about celebrating with family, friends, and even the community. It’s about giving back and doing something special. If you could celebrate the holidays differently, what would you do?

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Staying In Touch For The Holidays

Filed under: College Life, Fun Ideas, Seasonal Celebrations, Social Life/Relationships - Angelina
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Bailey Buckingham BookRenter Blogger Biography

If you’re like me, and most college students, you can’t afford to fly everywhere to see the people you love during the holidays. The holidays are a time to share love with the people in your life that you care about, and sometimes if you’re not able to be with them, you have to be creative on how you show them you love them! Here are a few very simple ways that I have shown love and stayed in touch with family and friends during the holiday season, and you can too!

1. Christmas Cards

Websites like Vista Print, Shutterfly, etc. are cheap and allow you to design your own card. Or, just make your own! Sending cards are a fun, easy, and quick way to say hello to friends and family. My last Christmas card had a picture of me and three of my pets. On the back, I gave a brief description of how I was doing in school and how my pets were doing. This makes the people you send the card to, feel updated and loved by you!

DIY Holiday Christmas Cards

Photo © Guru Koala

2. Skype

Skype is one of the best ways to keep in touch with anyone, anywhere. I love it because it feels like you’re sitting across from the person you are talking to. A few years ago, I was cooking my first Thanksgiving dinner and my dad walked me through the whole thing on Skype! It made us both feel lucky to have that kind of technology. It felt like we were cooking together. Video chatting is one of the best things to do if you’re distant from your friends and family.

Skype Video Chat

Photo © Skype

3. Surprise Gifts

This one may require you to save a few bucks, but it’s totally worth it for the people you love. Last year, we said we wouldn’t exchange gifts, but I sent my dad and step mom flowers and Christmas cupcakes that were delivered to the house. They felt so much love from the gesture, even though I was miles away. If you can’t afford much, then get creative! Send them a framed picture that you love of the two of you, write them a song, or whatever you’re talented at – use it as a surprise gift that will surely brighten their day!

Christmas Cookies

Photo © goodtaste

Distance is hard all the time, but it is especially hard during the holidays. Tackle the sadness of distance and be proactive by showing the people you love how much they mean to you, no matter how far away they are!

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Staying In Touch While Abroad

Filed under: Social Life/Relationships, Tips, Travel & Abroad - Angelina
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Serena Piper Blogger Biography

 

 

 

 

Preparing for my trip to the Republic of Georgia has come with its tradeoffs. I had to leave a familiar town, a great part-time job I’ve had for three years, and most importantly, my family and friends. It was difficult saying goodbye to people who have been my support system for so long. I have gone from seeing them every day, or at least every week, to not seeing them at all. It has made me think of creative ways to keep in touch with them so that it doesn’t seem like it has been so long that I have not seen them.

If you are preparing for your own adventure abroad or doing some traveling, here are some suggestions for staying in touch with those you love:

1. Skype

This is an obvious option for anyone using a computer. Free calls with anyone anywhere and you can see each other face to face! Another bonus, Skype is the perfect way to still have meals together – you can eat breakfast while they are eating dinner!

Skype Video Call Chat

Photo © Stefan Erschwendner

2. Postcards

Postcards are inexpensive enough that you can stock up on them in craft stores, airports, trinket shops in your visiting country, or you can even make them yourself! Print your photo at 4×6, turn it over and write your message, then stick on a stamp and write your friend’s address where they would normally go on a postcard and pop it in the mail!

Homemade Photo Travel Postcard

Photo © Ellen Jo Roberts

3. Email

Since you probably won’t have phone access (unless you pay the extra fee for international service), email is the next best thing. However, if you do have coins, try the payphone at a nearby cafe. Depending on where you stay, there will most likely be a phone available.

Email Communication

Photo © Wikipedia

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4. Video

A lot of people like to keep a video diary which they update weekly or even monthly. This is a fun way to bring life (and reassurance) to what you’re experiencing, instead of just writing words. It will also be something great to look back on when you arrive back home and to share with your friends and family.

Travel Video Vlogging Diary

Photo © Wikipedia

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Keeping a journal and/or online blog of your travels will also help when you don’t have time to write each individual person. Just send one email out announcing the blog link and let everyone know it’s the best way to stay updated because of your unpredictable schedule. They will be able to leave you comments and follow your day to day adventures.

 

Happy travels!

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Family Connections

Filed under: Social Life/Relationships - Angelina
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Blogger Bio

 

 

 

 

When was the last time you wrote an email to your grandma? Or sent a card or letter to your grandpa just to let him know how school is going? Or even called your aunt just to say hi? If you have been waiting for a sign, this is it.

Dear Grandpa Letter

Photo © SashaW

As college students, we let homework and jobs get in the way of keeping in touch with family, or sometimes we might even use them as an excuse to avoid too many questions from probing family members. But too often I’ve asked my friends if they keep in touch with their family (other than just their parents) and too often I’ve heard “no.” They’re always surprised when I tell them how active I am with keeping in touch with my family, which makes me wonder: is it really that uncommon?

Each family is different and it is true that only so much can be done if your grandparents or other relatives aren’t active online, but we still have phones; don’t let the internet be the barrier between reconnecting. I get it, sometimes your family just doesn’t understand what you’re going through. However, even if it takes a minute or two to explain to them what’s going on, I promise it will be worth it. They may have been born 50, 60, 70, or even 80 years ago, but some things never change.

Calling Grandma on the Phone

Photo © Mickey Eyes

In the past, I have made the mistake of assuming things were way too different “back then” for my grandparents to understand what I’m dealing with right now. When I finally spoke up and told them what was happening, I was pleasantly surprised to hear their similar stories. After talking with them, I was able to see my situation in a whole new light.

It’s a chance to see them as not just family, but as persons of their own. Your grandparents and aunts and uncles are often the greatest untapped resource for advice – so use it while you still can.

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So. You’re Living at Home This Summer.

Filed under: College Life - BookRenter Team
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Don’t chafe at having a few rules and regulations – benefits abound.

by Guest Blogger Keith Kaplan I ALBION COLLEGE: Brains (double-major honors student, Mortar Board, College Fellow) and brawn (swim team captain and an avid outdoorsman who most days can be seen paddling on the river that runs through his campus). Regular blogger. Co-founder of the eponymous DK Cookies (on Facebook!).

So, you’ve been back home from school this summer, have you? Back under your parents’ roof, in your old room? No matter how great your relationship with your parents is, it’s never easy to go from living on your own at school back to the scene of your growing up years, where on some level you’re still seen as needing close supervision and expected to abide by the house rules.

I have to admit that there are benefits to a temporary move back home (feel free to add to my list and share your own experiences).

by Robyn Lee

  • Home-cooked meals: Although it can be a struggle to cook for a family when everyone is fussy about what they eat, I do put my culinary skills to work fixing a meal now and then. But most nights I don’t actually have to shop for groceries or make a full dinner. My parents do it.
  • Laundry “service”: As much as we all love doing laundry…just kidding. My mom is nice enough to still do my laundry, even though I’ve been on my own for a few years now.
  • Friends who are back in town: When I came back home after graduation, it felt a little weird at first. But I found that a few old friends from high school were also back in town, and it’s been fun re-establishing those connections. Another plus: I have some place to go when my parents are driving me crazy (or the other way around).

There are also some potential challenges:

  • Striking a balance: I’ve been home for about two months, and it’s been tough getting used to how things go down in the house and finding a balance between the things I want to do – it’s my summer break, after all – and contributing to the life of the household (even the little things like loading and unloading the dishwasher, doing yard work, or washing the cars are appreciated).
  • Having a curfew: Depending on your parents, you might have a curfew. Even if you’re 21, remember that you’re living under your parents’ roof and need to live by their rules. Once you’ve been home awhile and established a routine, your ‘rents are likely to get more reasonable about when you need to be in at night, especially when they see how mature you’ve become (you are more mature now, right?).
  • Boredom: Chilling at home all day might sound good, but trust me, you’re going to get bored. If you don’t have a job, an internship, or some regularly scheduled activities, you’ll go crazy (I mean this in the least offensive way). Don’t let it happen! Make it a point to have a plan each day.

When you come back home, your parents need to realize that you’ve been off on your own for the past year, and your lifestyle is quite different. On the other hand, you need to realize that you’re not at college anymore. Come to a compromise on rules and activities that happen while you’re at home. It’s better to talk it out sooner than later because depending on your parents, they might still want to ground you.

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